Located in the Caribbean sea, in the archipelago of the Antilles, the US Virgin Islands consist of three main islands: Saint Croix, Saint Thomas and Saint John. The capital of the islands is Charlotte Amalie, on the island of Saint Thomas.
Christopher Columbus encountered the archipelago on his second trip to the Americas. It was a Danish colony for almost three centuries, until the USA purchased the islands in 1917. Thanks to this, the islands are technically a non-incorporated and organized territory of the USA, thus requiring the same administrative steps for visitors as US mainland. In other words, make an ESTA request online before traveling, and visit the islands without a visa!
Besides breathtaking scenery and stunning coastlines, there are plenty of things to do in these islands. Nature lovers can visit a luscious national park, featuring dozens of hiking trails. For scuba lovers, the islands are home to a coral reef, which has been declared a nationa monument and attracts many tourists each year. In fact, the islands are renowned for water activities in general, including world class locations for diving and scuba.
To get to the US Virgin Isles, you’ll need to make a stopover in New York or Miami, most probably. Depending on where you are coming from, your stopover may be elsewhere, but via air you will most likely be stopping over on mainland US territory. Arriving on the islands via cruise is also a wonderfully scenic and relaxing experience. Remember, if you are traveling to the USA via boat, you will also need to have your valid ESTA authorization ready.
One thing that’s worth mentioning about the islands relates to driving. Unlike the rest of the US,people drive on the left here. Don’t worry if you’re not used to this, just give yourself a bit of time to get used to having the car controls on the other side of the vehicle, and you’ll pick it up in no time.
A trip to the US Virgin Islands is a somewhat unique adventure, and can be a fantastic extension to a trip around mainland USA. Don’t forget, if you are embarking on a long trip, do not extend the 90-day period of your ESTA!